20th March 2011

The Cycle of Life

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“Understanding the Rita brings happiness and fulfilment in our life cycle. To learn, to work, to enjoy the fruits of our labours and then spend our time and our wealth in the service of others is the highest ideal we can aim for in our lives.”

Anil Bhanot, Founder and Executive Trustee

The ancient Hindu Rishis advocated four principle aims in life: –

Dharma – to love and to live the principles of righteousness, justice and truth

Arth – to have a livelihood, to build an enterprise, to own property

Kaam – to enjoy life, and all the joys and beauty life offers, in companionship with the Supreme all-encompassing Spirit, Paramatma

Moksh – to seek liberation from the cycle of death and re-birth, by understanding and transcending the Rita, becoming one with the supreme Consciousness Paramatma

Dharma is the operating system in which Arth and Kaam are performed, leading ultimately to Moksh.

They also taught that there are four stages of life: –

Brahmcharya – The First Stage: to study and learn a discipline

Grysth – The Second Stage: to get married, have a family, take on work and responsibilities

Vanprasth – The Third Stage: to retire after discharging your responsibilities

Sanyaas – The Fourth Stage: to give away material possessions, Daan, and to serve others unconditionally, Seva.

If we all lived our lives in this way, we ourselves, our families, our communities and our nations would reflect an interconnected ‘consciousness’ that would see us flourish academically, emotionally, economically, ecologically, and spiritually.

This sense of living is so often forgotten in today’s fast world. Most people follow the first and second stages of life out of habit or necessity, but then they often forget to move on to the third. The idea of Vanprasth, or retirement, is considered scary by many, and wasteful by many others. This could be due to the chances of increased expenses after retirement, including health and medical costs. While most people plan for such expenditures in advance by opting for medical insurance and add-ons like Medicare Advantage plans in Texas or elsewhere, if they haven’t considered these things ahead of time, retirement can seem terrifying. And people who don’t like sitting idle at home might think retirement is waste of time since they can be productive till they are fit and healthy and could provide for the family.

But to retire is something natural, to find a new home in the third stage of our life so that we can work towards freeing ourselves is something that could be accepted universally. It is a sort of Vanvas, finding a community to retire in far from the stressful metropolis. Many people in the western world today have adopted this idea. For example, Florida in the United States has become a favorite of retirees. They are able to find communities by relying on the internet, searching ‘how to find your perfect home in The Villages‘ or something similar.

These communities are made especially for those who have discharged their responsibilities and seek to live a peaceful life. They are also adherent of the fourth stage of life, wherein the people of the community have already given away most of their possessions to their children. They now live to help the residents of the community. By truly readopting this way of life, we would be free from any pure self-interest associated with accumulating wealth, as we would know our wealth would be used in a right and proper manner. We would live with a sense that while we must live and enjoy life within our means, ‘we bring nothing with us when we come into this world and we will carry nothing with us when we depart, except for the charity we give others.’ Rita: what you sow you shall reap.

Rita Trust 2010

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